Sixth Sense: Predicting LeBron's Move
Editor's Note: The following feature was written jointly by Tom Lorenzo and Nando Di Fino.
The final destination of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James is going to dominate any basketball conversation between now and the day he signs a new contract. Mayors have made corny YouTube pitches, coaches have been fired, general managers have resigned, and an entire city came together for a "We Are the World"-style plea. And all this is possible for one simple reason: nobody knows where he's going to sign. Every team still has a little glimmer of hope that the next stunt could be the one that lands LeBron.
Since information is going to be sparse, and speculation from basketball analysts quoting vague sources will be annoying, we decided to ask some of the most adept future diviners -- from a tea leaf reader in British Columbia to a Pittsburgh-based handwriting analyst -- to see if they could give any indication on where King James may land.
Andrea Mallis, Sports Astrologer
Andrea Mallis, creator of Virgo in Service Astrological Consulting, is a certified astrologer specializing in sports. She is a New York-born Bay Area resident who has predicted everything from Ty Wigginton's 2004 second-half implosion to Alex Smith's struggles as the quarterback of the 49ers. And she has some bad news for Cleveland fans.
"I could see James easily going to either of the New York-area teams," Mallis says. "To me, I see change everywhere I look in his forecast; I really see him hungry for change."
James was born on December 30, 1984, making him a Capricorn. Mallis says that Capricorns are very ambitious, serious, detached and materialistic. James also has a moon in Aries, a sign ruled by athleticism. The moon sign affects emotion, habit patterns and personal life, meaning that James' emotions are tied to athletics.
"If you have a planet in that sign, you feel it more personally," says Mallis. She explains that a current planetary configuration known as "Jupiter conjunct Uranus" isn't helping Cleveland's chances. The arrangement of planets basically means that both Jupiter (the planet of expansion) and Uranus (planet of liberation and freedom) are in Aries, affecting James' emotions.
"His charts lit up like a pinball machine," Mallis says. "Jupiter conjunct Uranus has the capacity to transfigure his professional work and his business interests for the good."
James' current scenario reminds Mallis of another Capricorn who reached free agency with the money, fame and large market of New York calling: Jason Giambi. The slugger had nothing but nice things to say about the small-market A's and his home state of California as free agency approached, harping on the fact that he was born there and wanted to stay. Then he bolted for the Yankees and their lucrative contract offer in 2001. When he appeared on Letterman to read a humorous Top 10 list explaining why he signed with the Yankees, one of his reasons was, "Have you ever been to Oakland?" Mallis says that the years of bad luck that followed Giambi as a member of the Yankees (injuries, no titles and steroid accusations) were the result of Capricorns having to act with integrity because they're ruled by Saturn, a planet that trades heavily in karma. This should serve as a warning to James.
"Capricorns are the one sign that has to be in integrity," she says. "They can't get away with it. They get caught." Mallis says that it wasn't that Giambi went for the money -- which is an accepted karmic archetype of the Capricorn -- but, rather, that he talked out of both sides of his mouth. "Capricorns set themselves up, they want to have it both ways," Mallis explains. "They say these profusely wonderful nice things about their hometown, get the town's hopes up, then when they go, the town feels betrayed." Mallis suggests that since it looks to her like LeBron will be headed for the material goods offered by the Knicks or Nets, he should just quiet down and stop doing things like telling Larry King that Cleveland might get a hometown edge. Otherwise, Mallis warns, "Karma will catch up."
VERDICT: New York or New Jersey
Kevin Hogan, Psy.D., Body Language Expert
Often referred to as the "Nation's Leading Body Language Expert," Kevin Hogan has written 19 books dealing with a range of topics from the human psyche to the tells that our body can reveal, including his most recent, The Psychology of Persuasion. Naturally he would be able to tell us a bit about what LeBron is hiding as he scratches his ear, wiggles in his seat, and leans back offering up his patented 'Cheshire Cat' smile.
Mr. Hogan first took a look at the presser following Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Celtics, the elimination game. Some of the early questions were in regard to his injured elbow, which Hogan concluded LeBron was "straightforward" about. After a brief discussion about said elbow, the conversation was dominated by his pending free agency.
LeBron was asked various questions as to whether or not he has made up his mind already on where he is going to play next season, and if so, where will he play. Of course, LeBron danced his way around the questions with a series of statements alluding to the fact that he hasn't even thought about where he's going to play next season. Mr. Hogan didn't necessarily buy that.
"As far as 'leaving Cleveland,' he consistently rubs his ear or scratches his nose," he says. "That doesn't mean someone is lying, but it does often indicate a person is anxious about something or that there is an inconsistency there."
He then goes on to say that, "based on the first four minutes of the video ... he won't be back in Cleveland." Interesting.
Hogan got from the video the impression that there was "nothing to indicate [LeBron] felt significantly 'connected' to the city/people/fan base (of Cleveland)."
The same goes for his feelings toward his teammates. "The same 'facial touches' happened when [LeBron] said 'we all get along,' " Hogan explains. "I'm not saying they don't, but that was a random comment and I would venture a bet that they don't."
Hogan had little to use in this press conference to offer up his thoughts on where LeBron would play next season, but he's quite certain that it won't be in Cleveland. "The second four minutes (of this press conference) validate the first four minutes," he said, and then offered up 4:1 odds that LeBron won't be back in Cleveland next season.
We then sent him video of the infamous Larry King interview, which aired shortly after our first conversation. Hogan felt reaffirmed in his initial assessment.
"He will be out of Cleveland in a month," he said. "Cleveland is an afterthought, not even in his mind."
VERDICT: Not Cleveland
Michelle Dresbold, Handwriting Analysis Expert
A graduate of the United States Secret Service's Advanced Document Examination training program, Michelle Dresbold, author of the book Sex, Lies, and Handwriting, is considered one of the country's top handwriting analysts. She examined an autographed basketball authenticated by Steiner Sports, and drew the conclusion that James will most likely leave Cleveland for a team that will give him the best chance of winning.
Dresbold immediately noticed that James' signature goes uphill. "Almost every successful high achiever has uphill handwriting," Dresbold says. "People who have a lot of energy and are upbeat, their handwriting always goes uphill."
Dresbold also notes that James has a big "O" shape at the end of his signature, even though there is no "O" at the end of his last name. It actually represents a basketball, whether James realizes this or not. "Your signature represents who you are, and you write your signature to tell people who you are," Dresbold explains. "He might actually think, 'Oh that's just how I sign,' but it's no coincidence that he puts a basketball at the end of his name."
She also notes that his signature slants to the right. "When that happens, it's a person who goes more by emotions," says Dresbold. "Emotions will drive him, sometimes maybe more than logical things. He'll be driven by emotions and his heart."
So ... point goes to his hometown of Cleveland?
Not exactly. Dresbold says that James' emotions could work against Cleveland in this case, trumped by his uphill handwriting, which drives him to want to be the best.
"That uphill handwriting is still the person who wants to be at the top of everything. If in his heart he thinks the other team will do better with him, he has that overall uphill thing, he wants to be the winner. He has the driving force to be the biggest star. I think even though he's emotional, he'll go where he'll make the most impact and be the biggest star. If he thinks another team will take him higher than where he is now, he'll take it."
VERDICT: Not Cleveland
Tanya Lester, Tea Leaf Reader
Tanya Lester has been practicing the art of tea leaf reading for almost 15 years. The process involves drinking a cup of tea and divining meaning from the patterns and placements of tea leaves. Most people know it from a famous scene in the Harry Potter books and movies.
Lester, the author of Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, lives on an island that requires a three-hour ferry ride from the abandoned basketball town of Vancouver to reach, and admits she knows absolutely nothing about LeBron James or basketball.
"I am interested in James at the moment because this is something very interesting to me on a psychic level," she explains. "It is a way for me to flex my psychic muscles."
Her method of tea leaf reading combines the intuitive process of reading the leaves with the channeling of a higher power through her gift of clairvoyance. Because of Lester's lack of basketball knowledge, we figured we might get a team out of left field. Instead, Lester predicted James would go to Chicago. Not only did she see a house on Lake Michigan in the tea cup, she also remarked that James, "has the power of a bull and all he really wants to do is take the ball down the court and hoop it into the basket."
When she found out that the Chicago Bulls were one of the top contenders to land James, she seemed to take it in stride. "This is the way the universe works when it gives us intuitive information," she says. "I am more sure than ever that LeBron James will choose to sign with the Chicago Bulls."
She initially read a lot of confusion from James in the tea leaves, starting at the top of the cup. "In many ways, he is not complicated and prefers to not have complications in his life."
She gets into more specifics towards the middle of the cup, where she gets a vision of James not going to New York, "because he likes open spaces and the Big Apple makes him feel a bit claustrophobic." As for Los Angeles, James likes to go there to get away from things and has never considered playing there.
Lester does, however, see James' confusion in selecting a team playing a role in delaying his decision. Because the image of a house and see-saw appear at the bottom of the cup, Lester thinks James may not make a decision until late August. But Lester eventually predicts James appreciating the open space offered by Chicago and even sees an image to further solidify the case. "I am getting none other than the Queen of Daytime Television: Oprah Winfrey."
VERDICT: Chicago Bulls
Psychic Readings by Amanda, Tarot Card Reader
Located on 51st Street (between 9th and 10th Avenue) in New York City, Amanda (last name withheld) has been giving psychic readings professionally for 16 years. She claims to have had her "gift" since she was six years old, which was enough of a selling point for us. We requested that Amanda perform a tarot card reading to try and provide us with a little insight as to where LeBron would be playing next season.
First, it's worth noting that Amanda claimed that she had no idea who LeBron James is. Whether you believe that or not is another thing. Such is the process of having your future told in a three-foot by five-foot storefront window.
After claiming that she had no idea who LeBron James was, the first thing she told us was that she was "getting Chicago." Meaning, there was a feeling that he was somehow associated with Chicago. Not bad.
She then asked about his current situation, in which we informed her that he had been playing in Cleveland for the past seven seasons. "Cleveland is definitely scratched out," Amanda said.
"It definitely looks like he's going to be thinking Chicago, but in the long run it's going to be New York," she followed with. New York? She's on to something.
Her next card told us that, "he will sign within the next 90 days." We don't necessarily think we needed the cards to tell us that, but the cards are certainly thorough. Amanda then went on to predict that the signing will happen in August. We take that information with a bit of skepticism. Something strikes us that this whole thing will get solved sooner than later.
Maybe the most interesting part of the reading was when she pulled the "Six of Cups" card. Now, we were a bit skeptical as to whether or not she knew who LeBron is, but we were a little moved by the draw of the "Six of Cups," especially since LeBron has decided to change his jersey number for the 2010-11 season from No. 23 to No. 6. Maybe that's just us getting wrapped up in the moment, but it was probably the most interesting tell we got from the reading.
Naturally, Amanda sees "a lot of success and a lot of happiness" for LeBron. Hard to argue with that.
She concluded that "Chicago and New York is a tossup, but New York is one thousand and ten percent." That's about as strong as you can get. It's often enough for one to give 100 percent, but 1010 percent? To most, giving a team 1010-percent odds would give said team an obvious lead. But we'll stick with her tossup claim. For safety's sake.
"His destiny was to be here in New York five years ago. He was supposed to be [in New York], but many people interfered in his life," she said. I think Knicks fans would agree that only in the post-Isiah era would success be possible. So maybe five years ago was a little premature.
VERDICT: Chicago/New York, but New York is 1010 percent.
The Dart Board
For the final task in our approach to pinpoint a future home for LeBron we went to The Gaf Bar in New York City. Walking into the bar, our intentions were to hang up a roadmap of the United States on a dart board and ask a few patrons to toss darts at the map. Where the dart lands, so too does LeBron. A game of both skill and luck, darts seemed like the ideal tool to foretell one's future.
We walked into the bar, which has three TVs, none of which were showing the pregame festivities of Game 6 of the NBA Finals even as tip-off was just 15 minutes away. There were two dart boards, each on an opposite side of the bar. One board was being used by "professional" players who had brought their own personal darts. The other board was occupied by a young couple who were simply engaged in a no-stakes game of darts.
The participants, Emily May and Roy Ston of Brooklyn, N.Y., were happy to accommodate our request. Before having them toss the first of three darts we asked if either were NBA fans. Roy said that he wasn't particularly a fan of the NBA, just college basketball.
Emily stepped up first, tossing a dart toward the map, landing about a fingernail's length west of Oklahoma City. It's an interesting idea. The Thunder have about $15.9 million in cap space this summer, but they also have a certain small forward named Kevin Durant who is arguably one of the three to five top players in the game.
To test the board we asked Roy to step up and give a throw. His first dart landed in Mexico, about a pinky's length away from San Antonio. If LeBron really wants to win a championship, wouldn't teaming him up with Coach Popovich, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker do the trick?
Proving that whatever higher being out there is a basketball fan, Emily took a third toss, which landed squarely on Raleigh, North Carolina. Yes, meaning LeBron would not live in Jordan's shadow in Chicago, but he'd live in his neighborhood in Charlotte.
So what did the dart board tell us? It told us that luck and chance have a great sense of humor, and more importantly, that they are most definitely NBA fans -- LeBron and Durant on the same team!?